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    Monday, May 08, 2006

    It's Good To Write...

    We were going to write something about E3 being shit this week, but seeing as our guide to being a games journalist got so much attention, we thought we’d talk more about that instead. The guide was very negative, but every word of it is true. That doesn’t mean to say that being a writer is shit though.

    Most of the same problems are there no matter what you write about. You still have shit pay to deal with, brain-dead editors to negotiate with, and corrupt publishing houses to answer to, but to answer all those predictable twats who keep asking why we don’t stop writing, it’s simple: writing is great.

    For the very few people (and it is a much lower number of people than you think) who can write to a decent standard, there’s nothing else that gives as much satisfaction as crafting an article and having it published. Our loving friend and number one lifelong fan John Walker made this comment:

    “1) Do you want to do the job because you get paid to play games? Then don't bother. Really, really, don't bother. As Rammy notes, free games come from the excellent bank holiday monday sale value offered on bittorrent. 2) Do you want to do the job because you get paid to write. Then that's a better starting point.”

    And that’s spot on. If you can write well, you have a gift. A gift in the same sense that an artist can create pictures with ease, a gift in the same way that musicians can write songs that are still remembered years after they’re released, and a gift in the way that developers can create games that are fondly remembered as classics decades later.

    The reason so many writers have blogs is because they love to write, even for free. It’s a win-win situation – writers love to create copy about things that inspire them, and readers and other writers love to read opinions and be entertained.

    With games journalists, games are often the muse of the writer. When anyone plays a game, it provokes an emotional response. The games writer is in a unique position to put their feelings down into words and influence their readers. We can warn our readers from buying shit, leaving the illiterate and ignorant to buy FIFA. We can encourage our readers to buy Guitar Hero. We can take the whole thing too far and let our limitless egos take over, which is where new games journalism comes in, but we’re not going to start on that again yet.

    The really sad thing is that so many good writers have to save all their best stuff for their blogs. Cutlack rarely comes close to the brilliance he often shows on UK:Resistance in his magazine appearances, Campbell can’t even appear in magazines anymore, and Gillen is often at his best when posting a forthright opinion about something when he’s off his face. Before the Internet, and before games magazines died, this kind of good writing would appear on varnished paper. Not any more.

    Someone asked why we didn’t sell our guide to a mag for £1000. The answer is simple: no mag would ever print it. No mag would print what’s on UK:Resistance and no mag will print anything by Campbell anymore. Because magazines are now designed to appeal to the advertiser first, we’re hard pushed to find anything entertaining, witty, or truthful in their pages. The truth is being limited by publishers who aren’t interested in a free press, and have thrown off their responsibility to keep the rest of games industry in check by printing nothing but honest criticism from their writers no matter how painful. They would sooner recreate the sandwich-board scene from Die Hard 3 than upset their advertising cash cows.

    On second thoughts, maybe it’s not so sad. After all, blogs are free, so you can access all the best output from the industry’s cream without needing to fork out six fucking quid for a propaganda leaflet or press release digest.

    As much as we moan about games journalism, we’re going to stick with it, because writing is one of the best things in the world. As you long as you lot keep reading our stuff we’ll keeping on writing it, because on the Internet, it’s the readers who give writers their credibility and influence.


    1. How am I supposed to disagree with you if you quote me?

      You've put me in a very difficult position.

    2. Hah, that means I've won! No, I've lost. It's a stalemate? Oh, I don't know....


    3. You may make a mistake if you think most of my mag writing isn't done drunk.


    4. Anonymous1:55 pm

      What about the Wii?

    5. It's a silly name but compared to the PS3 pricing, it's extremely rational.

      Or was that not the answer you were looking for?